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Don’t Expect Real Climate Solutions From COP26. It Functions for Corporations.

Don’t Expect Real Climate Solutions From COP26. It Functions for Corporations.  Simon PiraniTruthout August 29, 2021  

n the run-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in the U.K. in November — the 26th session of the talks that were launched in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 — the governments of the world’s richest countries are making ever-louder claims that they are effectively confronting global warming. Nothing could be more dangerous than for social, labor and environmental movements to take this rhetoric at face value and assume that political leaders have the situation under control

There are three huge falsehoods running through these leaders’ narratives: that rich nations are supporting their poorer counterparts; that “net zero” targets will do what is needed; and that technology-focused “green growth” is the way to decarbonize.

First, wealthier countries claim to be supporting poorer nations — which are contributing least to global warming, and suffering most from its effects — to make the transition away from fossil fuels.

But at the G7 summit in June, the rich countries again failed to keep their own promise, made more than a decade ago, to provide $100 billion per year in climate finance for developing countries. Of the $60 billion per year they have actually come up with, more than half is bogus: analysis by Oxfam has shown that it is mostly loans and non-concessional finance, and that the amounts are often overstated.

Compare this degrading treatment of the Global South with the mobilization of many hundreds of billions for the post-pandemic recovery. Of $657 billion (public money alone) pledged by G20 nations to energy-producing or energy-consuming projects, $296 billion supports fossil fuels, nearly a third greater than the amount supporting clean energy ($228 billion).

Meanwhile, the impacts of climate change are magnified by poverty. This year’s floodswildfires and record temperatures in Europe and North America have been frightful enough. The same phenomena cause far greater devastation outside the Global North.

In 2020, “very extensive” flooding caused deaths, significant displacement of populations and further impacts from disease in 16 African countries, the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO’s) annual climate report recorded. India, China and parts of Southeast Asia suffered from record-breaking rainfall and flooding, too……………….

The political leaders’ second fiction is their pledge to attain “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (the U.S., U.K. and Europe) or 2060 (China).

“Net zero” signifies a point at which the amount of greenhouse gases being pumped into the atmosphere is balanced by the amount being withdrawn. Once, it may have been a useful way of taking into account the way that forests, in particular, soak up carbon dioxide. But three decades of capitulation to fossil fuel companies, since the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed in 1992, have turned it into a monster of deceit.

Thanks to corporate capture and government complicity, many of the greenhouse gas emissions projections in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent report factor in huge levels of carbon removal by dubious technologies that do not, and may never, work at scale (e.g., carbon dioxide removal, carbon capture and storage, and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage). Governments have drawn up “net zero” targets reliant on these myths………….

The politicians’ third and more complex deception is in the technology-centered “decarbonization” measures they embrace in the name of “green growth.” These rely on tweaking, rather than transforming, the big technological systems through which most fossil fuels are consumed — transport networks, electricity grids, urban infrastructure, and industrial, agricultural and military systems………………

In the U.S., community groups advocate zero-carbon energy systems as part of an integrated approach to a “just transition” away from fossil fuels.

Governments resist because the corporations resist. Energy corporations fear decentralized electricity generation outside of their control; property developers despise regulation that compels them to use zero-carbon building techniques; gas distributors hate electric heat pumps. Just as oil companies and car manufacturers dread radical decarbonization of transport, petrochemical giants fear plastic-free supply chains, big agribusiness is terrified by low-carbon food systems, and so on.

Climate researchers have shown that absolute zero (not “net zero”) emissions is entirely achievable, by reducing energy throughput and living differently. The path is blocked not by technological factors, but by political ones: by the dynamics of wealth and power that constitute capitalism — the same dynamics that force the burden of climate change on the Global South.

Tackling climate change involves overcoming those dynamics. It is not so much about replacing bad government with good government, as it is about subverting, confronting, confounding and defeating corporate power. It is about developing a vision of our collective future that goes beyond capitalism………….

The most powerful response to looming climate catastrophe will come not from within the COP26 process, but from outside it, in the actions of grassroots organizers, communities, social and labor movements, and of society as a whole. https://truthout.org/articles/dont-expect-real-climate-solutions-from-cop26-it-functions-for-corporations/?

August 30, 2021 - Posted by | climate change, politics international

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